Cloud9 is disrupting the esports landscape

Cloud9 has taken esports by storm. Now, they’re developing a set of game insight tools to mine valuable data—and revolutionize the world of competitive gaming.

With half a billion fans globally, esports is experiencing a meteoric rise. At the forefront is Cloud9—one of the fastest growing and most successful organizations in the world of competitive video gaming, with several championships to their name.  Comprised of world-class players, coaches, and international teams across 12 of esports’ most popular games, Cloud9’s current challenge is maintaining their competitive advantage to keep them on top—and the key to that advantage is data.

Although analytics is still a relatively new discipline to esports, Cloud9 is using this technology to revolutionize how their players train, strategize, and compete. With access to Microsoft Azure, Artificial Intelligence, and Computer Vision, Cloud9 is able to mine highly specific data that gives them valuable insight into their strengths and weaknesses, and those of their opponents.

Patch analysis

Just like a game of ping pong, League of Legends requires players to constantly and quickly adapt. To keep the game fresh and challenging for competitors, Riot Games releases a new patch or update to League of Legends every few weeks that impacts the strengths and weaknesses of the champions.

That’s why Cloud9 is innovating along with mid laner ‘Nisqy’ to better understand and take on these changes. Aggregating various data sources using Microsoft Azure Cloud Services, Cloud9 is able to quickly identify trends that result from these patch changes—like champion selection, win rates, builds, and more. By funneling that data through a central repository, Cloud9 can tag and index games from each patch—ultimately creating a library of relevant videos that Cloud9’s players and coaches can use to see how competitors with the highest win rate are playing and building their champion.

With a new patch being introduced every two weeks, constant evaluation is required to understand the impact that these changes have on the teams individual play.

Halee Mason, Lead Data Scientist, Cloud9

Jungler tracking

The jungler plays a pivotal role in League of Legends. They can change the momentum of a game by stealing the other team’s resources and flanking their opponents. Studying the enemy jungler’s movements can help Cloud9 understand where the jungler will most likely be at any given point during a match. Collaborating with Watch For, a group in Microsoft Research focused on AI-based video analytics, Cloud9 is able to leverage computer vision to break down the movement and behavioral trends of the enemy—taking into account the nuances of both champion and professional player tendencies.

It has been an iterative process with Cloud9 to figure out the right data to mine as well the right visualization so the coaches and players can get maximum value.

Peter Bodik, Watch For Researcher, Microsoft

Draft analysis

A good League of Legends team is all about balance—and that balance begins with a successful draft.  To help the team be prepared and nimble in the draft phase, Cloud9 used Microsoft technology to pull information from multiple sources to track competitive and practice matches that professionals are playing. Through data analysis on these matches as well as historical pick/ban data, Cloud9 can then identify insights into what champions players are likely pick or ban in competition.  The Cloud9 team uses this analysis to intuitively strengthen their draft process through counter-picks and proactive bans informed by historical data.

The collaboration is just the beginning of Cloud9 tapping into the power of analytics. “Every week data analytics are playing more of a role and becoming a larger component of how Cloud9 is operating,” Halee Mason says. Cloud9’s League of Legends team is continuing to iterate with Microsoft on different types of data sources and new ways to use the data to find advantages. Other Cloud9 teams are also starting to harness Microsoft technology and data analytics can help give them the competitive edge.